Why Susan Sontag Matters

By Louis A. Ruprecht Jr. For anyone who is interested in religion and the arts, Susan Sontag’s (1933-2004) work remains essential. She burst upon the New York arts scene in 1966 with the publication of her collection of essays, Against Interpretation. The book was a tour de force examination of everything from second rate horror films to Critical Theory. Her primary interests were the performative arts, photography and film.

Field Notes on Drinking at a Buddhist Bar

Jolyon Baraka Thomas

We are pretty familiar with how Tokyo’s neighborhoods reward the adventurous, so when Three and I met up for drinks in Nakano on an autumn evening in 2012, we struck out for one of the small side streets near the station instead of walking down the larger shopping arcade directly across from the station exit.

An Excerpt from “Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know”

By Michael Ruse Christianity set the scene for the next two thousand years. It inherited the God of the Old Testament. By now, one is firmly in the world where one has moved from the one-among-many tribal god Yahweh to a single all-powerful creative deity: “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Acts 4: 24).  

The Altar of Taylor Swift

By Kelly J. Baker

The patron saint of awkward, idealistic (white) girls lives in my home, a part of our soundscape. The kids and I dance to her music. I place the toddler on my hip and grab the six-year-old’s hand. We shake off our concerns and frustrations together. We laugh at our silly dance moves. We sing along. This is a moment, in which we let everything go and enjoy ourselves. 

Modern Greece and the Politics of the Sacred

Louis A. Ruprecht Jr. Edmund Burke (1729-1797) referred famously to “the consecrated state.” G.W.F Hegel (1770-1831) spoke of the modern democratic state almost as if it were a “temple” dedicated to human freedom. Both men came to their startlingly spiritual views of modern politics and the modern state by reflecting critically on the French Revolution and its aftermath.

LSD and the Rabbis: Conclusion

Shalom Goldman As a culturally and politically aware New York City teenager, I knew that there was a buzz among bohemians and literati about LSD use. That in the early 1960s artists, musicians and poets were using psychedelic drugs was not exactly news. And that some of these artists were Jews (in a city a quarter of whose population was Jewish) was not exactly news either.

The New God of Football

By Saadia Faruqi The NFL made headlines yet again earlier this week for imposing a penalty on Muslim football player Hussain Abdullah and then promptly retracting the penalty and issuing an apology. Most people like myself heard of the apology before the penalty and had to backtrack to find out exactly what occurred on Monday night. I think Abdullah was confused by all the attention as well. His offense: prostrating in prayer after a touchdown in a game against the New England Patriots. So what? you may ask. Football players and their fans have been praying for their teams and thanking […]

An Interview with Jeffrey Kripal, Part Three: The Future of Religious Studies

In conversation with Paul Courtright of Emory University, Jeffrey Kripal, of Rice University, discusses his new textbook, Comparing Religions: Coming to Terms. Professor Kripal’s latest book is a departure from the traditional “world religions” textbook. He frames the adventure of the comparative study of religion as a kind of passage from conventional categories of religion, through an analysis of key themes and modes of reading texts and histories, to a reflexive re-reading in which the students rediscover themselves in relation to religion at the conclusion of the textbook and the course in which Professor Kripal has used it. Our conversation ranges across a number of issues in […]

The Limits of Science and the Dangers of Scientism: An Interview with Curtis White

“Revolutionary tools will reveal how thought and emotion arise,” proclaims a recent cover of Scientific American, trumpeting the current Century of the Brain. Wrong, says Curtis White in his recent book The Science Delusion—a clear and sharp response to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. What is true? In my interview here with White, we explore this question, the limits of science and the dangers of scientism. Researchers in the biotechnology company Amgen recently revealed that they were unable to replicate the results of 90 percent of the most-cited studies in cancer research.  What are the implications of such revelations (which are not that rare)?  What do they mean for science, society, […]